Winter TV preview

Jesse Tigges, Columbus Alive

The winter TV season is upon us, so Alive wants to give some recommendations for hibernating with the boob tube. Here's a rundown of five buzz worthy shows worth watching. Full reviews for the winter premieres can be found at columbusalive.com.

"Girls" (HBO)

9 p.m. Sundays, beginning Jan. 13

3.5 stars

Lena Dunham made quite a splash as the star, creator and main writer for the first season. You may have heard about some controversy too. Season 2 makes a quick turnaround, and doesn't show many signs of a falloff from the stellar first season.

Dunham takes the four titular girls - especially her character Hannah Horvath - to some especially interesting and, frankly, unlikable places. The girls of "Girls" have always been impetuous and self-centered, but they go further here; with the exception of Zosia Mamet's Shoshanna, who's coming into her own.

Thankfully, "Girls" still has a bold sense of humor in its hyper-realistic truths. Adam Driver was the breakout star last season as Hannah's oddball boyfriend, and he's fantastic again, but keep an eye out for Donald Glover ("Community") and Andrew Rannells ("The New Normal").

"Justified" (FX)

10 p.m. Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 8

3.5 stars

The Harlan County crime drama has firmly placed itself among the best dramas on television, and Season 4 has immense potential. Timothy Olyphant's Raylan Givens has as much swagger as ever, only outdone by Walton Goggins' Boyd Crowder, but both have a world-weary aura to them.

Raylan's cop-killing father could be the show's next great villain. Is the old coot losing it or just playing possum? Boyd has a new adversary in a snake-handling preacher (Joe Mazzello), but crossing Boyd is never a good idea.

The preacher story - mostly Mazzello - lacks punch so far, but the arc involving Raylan and his father could be explosively powerful.

"Shameless" (Showtime)

9 p.m. Sundays, beginning Jan. 13

3 stars

It's more shenanigans from the Gallagher crew, and it sure is a lot of fun - while being pretty tragic as well. Fiona (an amazing Emmy Rossum) can't catch a break in making ends meet and her drunkard father Frank (William H. Macy) is no help, as always.

"Shameless" is giving Steve/Jimmy (Justin Chatwin) a larger plot that has potential. Ian (Cameron Monaghan) is coming into his own - even with an older man (Harry Hamlin) - as Lip (Jeremy Allen White) is struggling to find his way. Frank's shoehorned plots aren't ideal, but Kev (Steve Howey) and Veronica (Shanola Hampton) getting more screen time is welcomed.

Two more to watch for:


10 p.m. Thursdays, beginning Jan. 17

3.5 stars

A "Bob's Burgers" crossover - the other series H. Jon Benjamin lends his voice to - and guest spot from Timothy Olyphant guarantee this animated spy series just keeps getting funnier.

"The Following"

9 p.m. Mondays, beginning Jan. 21

3 stars

Kevin Bacon comes to TV in this gritty, psychological thriller about a cat-and-mouse between a former FBI agent (Bacon) and a wickedly charismatic serial killer (James Purefoy).